Retired band director photographs wildlife
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
May 21, 2013 | 1948 views |  0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pam Smith has had one professional job in her life. She was band director at Pleasant Valley High for 28 years, retiring in June 2011.

Once she arrived at Pleasant Valley, she felt comfortable right away being the parent-away-from home for her band students.

“They became my kids,” she said. “I think I was born to teach. Once you start, it comes natural to you, and I enjoyed it very much. It was a great experience. They were just like my family. As you get older though, the long days become more difficult, especially those marching days that are very hot in August.”

Pam moved here from here hometown of Jasper in Walker County in 1978 to attend Jacksonville State University where she received her BS, master’s and Ed.S degrees in music education.

At Cordova High School in Walker County she was a member of an all-girl trumpet line.

“They wouldn’t let the girls play drums, which is what I would have liked, so we wouldn’t let the boys be in our trumpet line,” she said.

Pam is the only child of Nelda Gunter and the late Harold Smith.

“I was super independent as a child, almost to a fault,” she said. “I think I had an opportunity to be spoiled, but I wasn’t because I was just too independent.”

She’s always had an interest in photography and, once she retired, she had more time to pursue it. Her focus is nature photography. She invites everyone to visit her website is She had a booth at the Fair on the Square recently and, since then, she has carried her photographs to Art on the Lake in Guntersville and Art in the Park in Jasper.

Pam has been on six safaris to Africa to photograph animals on that continent. She’s been to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa with her friend Judy Glass and wildlife artist Larry Martin.

“I’ve always liked photography and have always had a camera,” she said, “but after I made my first safari is when I really got serious about it.”

Pam spent 10 days in the Galapagos Islands in 2009 where she said it was “very interesting getting really close to the critters. They basically have five types of wildlife there – birds, fish, crabs, iguanas, and sea lions – that’s about it.”

She came home with hundreds of underwater photos she took while snorkeling.

She’s also been on photography tours to Costa Rica, British Columbia and London with the Marching Southerners in 2012.

Pam confesses that she has a wish list. She wants to go to the Amazon, Alaska, and the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland to photograph the natural world.

Although photography takes up most of her time, she plays with the Calhoun County Community Band.

“Once you’re a band director, you’re always going to be one,” she said. “I still judge and do honor band clinics. I’m still very active in the band world.” Since retiring, Pam has been an adjunct supervisor of music interns at JSU.

She is an active member of the Jacksonville Church of Christ where she has attended since coming to Jacksonville.

Contact Margaret at


Nelda's Chocolate Coconut Pie

1/4 cup butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1 c. coconut
Semi-sweet chocolate morsels
9 inch pie crust

Melt butter and let cool. Mix butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Add milk and mix well. Add coconut and mix. Line bottom of pie shell with chocolate morsels, then pour wet mixture on top of pie. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set.

Corn Salad

1 - 12 oz. can whole kernel corn
1 chopped green bell pepper
1  chopped sweet onion
1 c. chopped carrots
1 diced tomato

Drain canned corn then mix with the next three ingredients. Add the tomato mix gently. Mix the above with mayonnaise and honey mustard dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight if possible. Add bacon bits, ham or chicken if desired.

Idella's Ravorli Casserole

1 lb. ground chuck
1 onion
1 bell pepper
1 can tomato soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 package egg noodles
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Brown ground chuck with onions and bell pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain well. Add tomato soup, cream of mushroom soup and cheddar cheese soup. Let simmer while noodles cook in separate saucepan. When noodles are cooked, drain, then mix with the beef mixture. Pour into a casserole dish; top with cheese and place in oven until cheese is melted.

Crock Pot Beans

1 large can pork and beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
2 c. brown sugar
½ c. catsup
½ c. barbeque sauce
1 T. mustard
3 strips bacon

Mix all ingredients add salt and pepper to taste. Cook in the crock pot on low setting for 4 hours.
Comments must be made through Facebook
No personal attacks
No name-calling
No offensive language
Comments must stay on topic
No infringement of copyrighted material

Friends to Follow

Most Recommended

Retired band director photographs wildlife by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

Today's Events

event calendar

post a new event

Sunday, April 20, 2014